By their very nature digital marketers have to wear a lot of hats. One moment you’re trying to generate the latest viral campaign, the next – trying to get your head around assisted conversion tracking in AdWords.
There’s one thing though that universally unites digital marketers though – Google. Yet, Google tools are not used equally. Ask almost any digital marketer about the workings of Google Analytics and they’ll be able to explain. Ask them about Google Search Console however?
This has happened so many times now to me that it needs addressing. If you’re a marketer, technical or no, then you need to have a working knowledge of Google Search Console. It’s the tool to massively help or hinder how your website performs in Google. So here’s the 5 key things you need to keep an eye on:
(New to Google Search Console? You’ll need to add your website first. The easiest way to do this is if you already have access to Google Analytics. Log in here. Add Your Site. Verify It and give it 24-48 hours to pull in data).
Here’s the areas you should be looking at…
- What is it? It’ll show you some (not all) of the phrases people are using to find your site
- Where is it? Use the left hand navigation to go to Search Traffic > Search Analytics
Opening up Search Analytics provides a treasure trove of data about what people search for to reach you. You’ll get a graph like the below and you can change the date range on the top right.
Naturally, your brand name will likely be the most popular search term but they’ll be plenty of other key phrases you’re site might be appearing from. Want to go a little deeper? Hit the pages option, and you’ll see the most popular pages, which if you open each one in turn you can see the queries which people are searching for to get to individual pages.
- Finding queries you may not have realised your website is ranking for
- Finding pages you didn’t know were ranking
- Understanding when pages started or stopped getting traffic from Google.
Links to Your Site
- What is it? It’ll show some (not all) of the other websites which have links back to you.
- Where is it? Use the left hand navigation to go to Search Traffic > Links to Your Site
Links have a massive bearing on how well your website appears in Google. Hit the ‘More‘ button under Who Links The Most and then Download Latest Links. Then you’ll have a full list of all the sites Google can find which have a link back to you.
- Checking you’re not being spammed by other sites
- Finding opportunities to find websites to partner with
- Finding mentions and press coverage you might not have realised were live
- What is it? You can easily add extra layers of data to your site to give Google more information
- Where is it? Use the left hand navigation to go to Search Appearance > Data Highlighter
Data Highlighter gives you access to schema markup, a very cool bunch of coded tagging you can add to a site. In essence it explains to Google more clearly that certain information is in fact certain information (like a series of digits is actually a phone number). Thankfully the most common options are easy to apply. It’s just a process of following the instructions and colouring in the areas of your website for where you want to add the code you want.
You can add tags for all sorts of things but the most common ones we use are are for adding Local Business Information, Reviews, Products and Events markup.
- Quickly adding important business information that can be included as an extra in Google’s search engines results.
- What is it? You can see basic errors with your meta data which can impact on your appearance in Google
- Where is it? Use the left hand navigation to go to Search Appearance > HTML Improvements
Here you’ll find information on title tags and meta descriptions which are either too long, too short or duplicate with one another. These are the bits of information which appear in Google’s search results pages – and are all things which can negatively affect your SEO.
- Finding and fixing title tags and meta descriptions. (Need to know how to fix title tags and meta descriptions? Read the guides from Moz on title tags and meta descriptions.)
- What is it? It’ll show you your sitemap and how many pages Google has found in it.
- Where is it? Use the left hand navigation to go to Crawl > Sitemaps
Sitemaps are like content pages for your website, a simple one page reference, just for Google, that the search engine can look at to understand where all your pages are. Hook this up to Search Console and you’ll have a continuous connection so Google can see any changes the moment they happen. (Here’s an explainer about what a Sitemap is,) You can probably find your sitemap here by adding /sitemap.xml onto the end of your website address and it should appear. If not ask one of your developers for a hand in locating it.
- Seeing if you have a sitemap is hooked up to Google Search Console (if not, then add it!)
- Seeing how many pages have been indexed (added to Google) and how many have been submitted from your sitemap – if there’s a big difference in numbers there may be an issue you need to look into.
We’re fully aware that you guys are pulled from pillar to post with different activities, so it’s fine if you’re not able to fully apply each of these items. At the least make sure you have a login to get to your Search Console account, and next time when someone like myself asks about it, you’ll know all about it.